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Interpreting Censorship in Canada

Interpreting Censorship in Canada

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 464
  • Book Info
    Interpreting Censorship in Canada
    Book Description:

    Socially organized activity cannot occur without censorship. Going beyond ideological arguments, this collections of essays explores the extent of censorship in Canada today, the forms censorship takes, and the interests it serves.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7625-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 Censorship! Or Is It?
    (pp. 3-18)

    The extant critical literature on speech restraints shows striking differences in the interpretation of the term ‘censorship.’ Those who investigate a particular form of restraint or a specific case usually have little difficulty in using the term. There is easy agreement, for instance, that the seizure of magazines by police, the banning of a film by a public authority, or the pseudo-conviction of the British author Salman Rushdie by Iranian religious fanatics are all manifestations of censorship. But whenever the attempt is made to use a term that includes all forms of speech restraint, the various approaches yield different results....

  5. 2 Chameleon on a Changing Background: The Politics of Censorship in Canada
    (pp. 19-39)

    Censorship has existed, does exist, and undoubtedly will continue to exist in Canada. The politics of censorship - the political framework in which censorship and its objects are defined and within which censorship operates - have, however, changed dramatically over the years, and with these changes, censorship itself has changed. How censorship is viewed, how it is understood in relation to the different elements of Canadian society, how what at one moment may seem a comforting security against threats can become at another moment itself a threat, are all political questions to which the answers change as the way in...

  6. 3 Pluralism and Hate: Freedom, Censorship, and the Canadian Identity
    (pp. 40-55)

    The traditional arguments against censorship and for free expression are well known.¹ Frederick Schauer’sFree Speech: A Philosophical Inquiryconsiders five key arguments: (1) the argument from truth; (2) the argument from democracy; (3) free speech and the good life; (4) individuality and free speech; and (5) the inutility of suppression.² The first and fifth arguments received early and classic expression in Milton’sAreopagiticaand Locke’sA Letter Concerning Toleration. For Milton and Locke, censorship not only was an impediment to the discovery of truth, but its very practice was incoherent since (as Locke held) coercion cannot produce sincere belief.³...

  7. 4 Judging Speech: An Inquiry into the Supreme Court's Theory of Signification
    (pp. 56-79)

    The texts that make up Canada’s obscenity law can be analysed with a view to understanding how courts govern the production and distribution of images and words by giving certain moral standards the force of law. Though this type of analysis is one of the tasks of this chapter, it is hardly original since critical legal scholars and gay/lesbian activists both in Canada and elsewhere have critiqued the ‘modernization’ of obscenity law in the same manner, showing that despite some changes in the justifications used to legitimate obscenity law, moralism has by no means been eliminated. Given the existence of...

  8. 5 Beyond Censorship: An Essay on Free Speech and Law
    (pp. 80-100)

    If earlier periods in Canada’s communications history were marked by attention to the issues of national unity and broad public access, the current era will likely be remembered for its deep concern about censorship. The key issues in today’s discussions and debates about broadcasting, newspapers, universities, the arts, and other communications channels relate to censorship. And there tends to be wide agreement that censorship is bad. To call someone a ‘censor’ is itself censorious - it condemns what that person is doing. It leaves little room for argument. Like the labels ‘sexist’ or ‘racist,’ ‘censor’ suggests something undesirable in the...

  9. 6 The Censorship of Commercial Speech, with Special Reference to Tobacco Product Advertising
    (pp. 101-128)

    The government of Canada’s nearly decade-long attempt to ban tobacco advertising and restrict tobacco marketing has been one of the most prominent censorship issues in the recent past. The original attempt, in the 1988 Tobacco Products Control Act (hereafter TPCA), was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1995 (although the ban had been in effect throughout that period); the new ban, in the more simply titled Tobacco Act of 1997, was in the courts before the ink was dry on the legislation and certainly also will wind its way to the Supreme Court.

    Advertising is known in legal terms...

  10. 7 Undercover Censorship: Exploring the History of the Regulation of Publications in Canada
    (pp. 129-156)

    The history of the censorship of publications in Canada is, for the most part, a hidden history. Apart from relatively rare criminal prosecutions, and in contrast to the regulation of film, video, radio, and television by provincial and federal administrative bodies, there has been little in the way of visible, public regulation of publications. In addition, there has been very little scholarly exploration of the regulation of publications in Canada.² One could be forgiven for forming the mistaken impression that censorship of publications has been an exceptional event in this country.

    One aim of this chapter is to begin the...

  11. 8 Censorship in Schools: Orthodoxy, Diversity, and Cultural Coherence
    (pp. 157-181)

    Three children’s books,Asha’s Mums, Belinda’s Bouquet, andOne Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dadsrecently sparked a heated debate in British Columbia. Headlines in the Vancouver Sun tell the story: ‘Ban urged on teaching about homosexuality’;² ‘Trustees decided gay issue was not for classroom;’³ ‘Surrey school trustees ban three books about same-sex families’;⁴ ‘Clark, Ramsey deplore Surrey’s ban on books about same-sex families;’ ‘Clark says ban is outrageous’;⁵ and ‘Librarians urge Surrey school board not to ban books.’⁶

    Since March 1997, when the British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCTF) formed a panel to eliminate homophobia within the public school...

  12. 9 Walking the Tightrope: Management of Censorship Attempts in Canadian Libraries
    (pp. 182-198)

    Being confronted by someone clutching a book or gesturing towards a computer screen while angrily announcing ‘Look what I found in this library!’ is a familiar though dreaded part of the current Canadian library scene. Those voicing their concerns may be parents concerned about books about witches in a school library, students upset by Holocaust revisionist materials in a university library, or adults disturbed by what they can find through a public library Internet computer program. Regardless of the complainant, librarians find the management of these concerns extremely stressful, partly because the information being protested against is often associated with...

  13. 10 The Ethos of Censorship in English-Canadian Literature: An Ontopornosophical Approach
    (pp. 199-220)

    One has to be completely taken in by this internal ruse of confession in order to attribute a fundamental role to censorship, to taboos regarding speaking and thinking; one has to have an inverted image of power in order to believe that all these voices which have spoken so long in our civilisation - repeating the formidable injunction to tell what one is and what one does, what one recollects and what one has forgotten, what one is thinking and what one thinks [s]he is not thinking - are speaking to us of freedom.

    Michel Foucault,The History of Sexuality,...

  14. 11 ‘Pornography Disguised as Art’: Some Recent Episodes concerning Censorship and the Visual Arts in Canada
    (pp. 221-240)

    One could argue that there is no such thing as censorship of the visual arts in Canada. Other media have been and are subject to regulation and institutional censoring bodies. But legislation has never been directed solely at the visual arts or artistic matters per se. A notable exception is video art. Even in this case, however, video works have fallen into the hands of state censors only if their special status as art works has been refused and they have been classified as film.¹

    Visual arts are, however, especially vulnerable to laws that criminalize obscenity and pornography. Those laws...

  15. 12 Canada, Censorship, and the Internet
    (pp. 241-267)

    Writing about Canada, censorship, and the Internet (Net) must be a forwardlooking, futuristic activity, since there has been little discussion of problems of content on the Internet. If Keith Spicer, the former chair of the Canadian Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and currently the policy director of the Canadian Library Association, had been correct in February 1996 when he declared at a conference in Toronto that ‘there is no question of censoring the Internet in Canada,’ this chapter would never need to have been written. At the time, Spicer was echoing the former MIT professor and Information Highway guru, Nicholas...

  16. 13 The Social Psychology of Censorship
    (pp. 268-289)

    In this chapter we present a social-psychological perspective on censorship. Social psychologists study ‘how the thought, feeling, and behaviour of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others.’² Thus, social psychologists study social settings, where one person is influenced by another. The discipline of social psychology encompasses both the causes and the consequences of social behaviour.

    We define censorship in a manner analogous to Klaus Petersen’s recommendation in the opening chapter of this volume. Specifically, censorship is avaluebased attempt to control or interfere with the production and/or dissemination of verbal or pictorial information. Given that...

  17. 14 The Muted Bugle: Self-Censorship and the Press
    (pp. 290-317)

    There is a story about the training of elephants: they are initially bound by chains of a certain length. Once they become accustomed to these chains, the chains can be removed. The elephants will not stray, because invisible bonds exist in their memories. Something similar occurs in the newsroom. After seeing words taken out, texts altered or spiked, a reporter learns to think and write in the approved manner. The external corrections are no longer needed. The same is sometimes true of official censorship. A few brushes with the official censor suffice, following which the censor is no longer necessary....

  18. 15 Censorship by Inadvertence? Selectivity in the Production of TV News
    (pp. 318-333)

    Several years ago the sociologist Herbert Gans observed that journalists ‘almost always have more available information than they can use.’¹ What they use, therefore, is selected. News production is essentially, not accidentally, a matter of selection. Selection, in turn, is constrained, which immediately introduces the question of criteria: on what grounds is information selected and used? This question brings us to the heart of any TV news show, the producer.

    As the title indicates, his or her job is toproducethe news. During the early days of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) television, the story goes, one news-reader ended the...

  19. 16 Selective Marginalization of Aboriginal Voices: Censorship in Public Performance
    (pp. 334-350)

    If one acknowledges that censorship is a device to control the breadth of communication in the name of realizing some value espoused by those in authority, then its analysis as a tool can be extended to the dynamics of marginalization. If this is done, the definition of the scope of censorship in law is crucial as one struggles with the role of the state in a liberal democracy. Although censorship does not always present itself in this way, what should or should not be available through communication or text reflects our institutionalized certification of tolerance or intolerance. Much legal debate...

  20. 17 The Ironies of Academic Freedom
    (pp. 351-366)

    Historians in Canada and the United States have demonstrated that the road to academic freedom is paved with the courage and periodic martyrdom of nonconformist professors. From the mid-nineteenth century to the early 1960s, a coterie of freethinking secularists, socialists, civil libertarians, and administration critics elicited the wrath, and sometimes the strong arms, of university presidents and powerful politicians. Hostility to political radicalism exposed left-leaning academics to censorious treatment during the 1930s; so did the Cold War ‘witch-hunts’ of the 1950s, particularly in the United States. For criticizing the principal of Winnipeg’s United College in a private letter to a...

  21. 18 The Market and Professional Censorship of Canadian School Textbooks
    (pp. 367-385)

    This chapter looks at two intertwined examples of what some might call censorship and what others might call control, ideological dominance, or even discrimination. My main point is that market organization, and more particularly the organization of investment in textbook development, favours certain ideas and, in excluding others, acts as a censor. My subsidiary point deals with the initial difficulties I had during the late 1970s and early 1980s in making the case with government officials, publishers, and academic colleagues that a certain limited set of ideas did indeed prevail in school-learning materials.

    In making these points, rather than move...

  22. 19 Sense and Censorship: Towards a Different Account of Expressive Freedom
    (pp. 386-402)

    One thing that should be clear from all the essays in this collection is that the whole way in which censorship is thought about is more than ready for serious reappraisal. There is an urgent need to rethink and develop a fresh account of the theory and practice of censorship that is better suited to the conditions of late-twentieth-century Canada. This involves a wide slate of issues, but it particularly necessitates examining the circumstances in which information and opinion are constructed and disseminated. In doing this, traditional approaches are as much part of the problem as the solution. Any fresh...

  23. APPENDIX: Film Censorship
    (pp. 403-412)
  24. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 413-416)
  25. Contributors
    (pp. 417-422)
  26. Index
    (pp. 423-438)